The modernist architecture and distinct nature of the East End inform the work of LaGuardia Design Group.
More than a decade after launching his firm, Christopher LaGuardia enlisted the talents of Dan Thorpe (left) and Ian Hanbach, who came aboard as partners.
Capability Brown, the great 18th-century English landscape architect who designed naturalist parks for the most prestigious manors in England, likened the structure of his gardens to that of a sentence. “Where a more decided turn is proper, I make a colon,” Brown used to explain to his clients. “At another part, where an interruption is desirable to break the view, a parenthesis; now a full stop, and then I begin another subject.” LaGuardia Design Group, the landscape-architecture frm based in Water Mill, uses those same principles of structure to create the most innovative natural landscapes in the Hamptons today.
Christopher LaGuardia started his frm in 1992, adhering to the standards of modern architecture while remaining sensitive to the balance needed in native ecosystems. “I wanted to be sympathetic to what grows in each ecology,” explains LaGuardia. As his practice expanded, he instilled these values into his younger partners, Ian Hanbach and Daniel Thorp, who joined the frm in 2005 and 2007, respectively. The LaGuardia team creates “live landscapes focusing on space, light and form, rather than using planting as decoration. Pools, patios, and pergolas may be useful elements of a garden, but when building or restoring landscapes, an architect can also contribute to saving an endangered ecosystem and modifying human behavior to help it prosper.
This year that level of commitment to the profession earned LaGuardia a nomination to the American Society of Landscape Architects Council of Fellows—the highest honor the ASLA bestows on members who have made signifcant contributions to landscape architecture. In 2013, LaGuardia Design Group won the ASLA Award of Excellence for a project that involved moving “Record House”—an awardwinning 1970s residence in Sagaponack—400 feet inland from the coast, after dunes the house was built on were eroded by Hurricane Sandy
“When designing, we always look toward the next biggest context for inspiration,” says Thorp. “So along the ocean, we typically contour dunes in long, rolling berms that mimic the white-capped waves beyond.” This tactic also helps to fortify dune structures and prevent erosion. The studio is completing a new project in Water Mill that already received the ASLA NY Merit Award for 2015: The architects persuaded the homeowners to leave their native meadow intact and added 10,000 cubic feet of sand to restore the dunes on their oceanfront property. As Hanbach explains, “There’s an elegance to belonging to your surrounding landscapes.” Box 268-860 Montauk Hwy., Water Mill, 726-1403